Council approves water system improvements

By Cecilia Fox -

WEST MILTON — At their meeting Tuesday, the West Milton village council took action on several water system improvements, including the repainting of a water tower, a study of the village’s water distribution system and the extension of sanitary sewers to Ludlow Falls.

Council approved a contract with Horizon Brothers Painting in the amount of $330,900 for the painting of the north water tower, which is located near where the Stillwater Dam used to be.

The village’s water distribution system includes two water towers, of which the north tower is the most important, Municipal Manager Matt Kline said.

“These water towers need to be maintained to ensure the health and safety of our water supply system to our residents. They have a tendency to deteriorate over time. These towers are older, very old in fact,” he said. “They both are in need of repair and refurbishing.”

The north tower has evident discoloration and rust spots, Kline said, noting that any UV protection the tower once had is gone. He estimated that it has been about 30 years since improvements were made to the towers.

“Rest assured, the water supply system is safe. However we do need to maintain these to ensure their safety,” Kline said.

The project is scheduled to be completed this fall, weather permitting.

Council approved a $300,000 loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority for the project. Kline said he was pleased with the rate of 0.64 percent on the 10-year loan.

He said that it comes out to approximately $1.35 per house each month, or less than $15 a year for 10 years per household. That will be added to residents’ water bills on the first of next year.

“I know we already have high water rates and some people may upset about that $1.35, but I think it’s a pretty good deal … to have safe water,” councilwoman Sarah Copp said.

Water model study approved

Council also voted in favor of a contract with FTC&H Engineering for $18,800 to perform a water model study of the village’s water distribution system. The engineers will evaluate the system with the ultimate goal of securing and/or lowering rates for residents, Kline said.

The village has been in talks with the city of Troy for some time about the management of the water system. Kline said that city of Troy has contracted with another engineering company to evaluate “what it would look like if, perhaps, the city of Troy would consider running our system.”

“We — Ben (Herron) and I and this council — need to have some sort of guidance and direction in case the city of Troy actually says no to this idea. And if the city of Troy says no to this idea, we don’t have a blueprint or a map as to where we go next,” Kline said.

Mayor Scott Fogle said there are about six years left in the 20-year water contract with Troy.

“It is paramount at this time that we do something like this with the water model study looking forward at what our options are,” he said.

Ludlow Falls sewer grant accepted

The village council also voted to accept a grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the design and construction of a sanitary sewer from West Milton to Ludlow Falls.

“The village of Ludlow Falls is facing some potentially dire consequences when it comes to sanitary sewer. Each of their homes are on septic systems and they have been informed by health districts that if and when any of these said septic systems should fail, they would not be approved for new ones,” Kline said. “These are our neighbors … and we all live in the same school district and that’s something none of us could afford to have any of our neighbors go through.”

The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission paid for a study, which determined that the most economically feasible option would be to send West Milton’s sanitary sewer lines to Ludlow Falls, Kline said.

“It would include a lift station, gravity fed sewers for the vast majority of all the homes, and then it would be a pumping system to us until it met gravity and flowed into our connection on the north side,” he added.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is contributing $1 million to the project.

“This doesn’t mean that the Ludlow Falls sewer project is a go yet. The village of Ludlow Falls has to make certain decisions, we’re not forcing this on Ludlow Falls,” Kline added.

There will be a meeting in October with both villages, he said.

Stillwater Crossings update

Council also voted to set a public hearing for a petition to establish a new community authority for the Stillwater Crossings development.

The public hearing will be held at special council meeting at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24.

This would essentially form a tax overlay district that will “lay on top of” the development, the village’s public finance attorney Caleb Bell explained.

This is one of a a number of financial mechanisms that will pay for the public infrastructure like the tax increment financing plan, which is a diversion of taxes to pay for infrastructure.

The purpose of the community authority is “to essentially put back on the tax duplicate those taxes that are abated away,” he told council.

“This is that last piece of the finance plan that will come before council,” Bell said.

The community authority also requires the establishment of a board of trustees to oversee the development. Those members will be appointed later and will represent both community interests and the developer’s interests, though the village council will appoint more members than the developer, Bell said. Appointees will eventually be replaced by residents of the development as the population grows.

“You might think of this as like a homeowner’s association. Where, if you’re in a development and the developer runs the association until build-out and then they turn it over to the residents. This is a similar process, it’s just statutorily driven,” Bell said.

The community authority district requirements are laid out in Chapter 349 of the Ohio Revised Code.

The community authority district would stay in effect during the period in which the district’s financial obligations are outstanding, Bell said.

By Cecilia Fox

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